A DEJECTED Colin Cooper said he was “angry and disappointed” after seeing his Hartlepool United side beaten for the third successive Sky Bet League Two match.
But the 46-year-old manager praised his players for their effort, commitment and work ethic against Fleetwood Town after going a man down in only the third minute of the game, Jordan Richards seeing red for a late and reckless tackle on Jeff Hughes.
Quick fire second-half goals from experienced burly forward Jon Parkin and substitute Alex Marrow saw Fleetwood win 2-0 with Pools unable to come back from the early set-back of losing their right-back.
Richards was starting only his second match of the season in place of the injured Michael Duckworth, out for at least a month with a double hernia.
But the Sunderland-born defender was caught wanting and let himself and his team-mates down by seeing red so early.
It meant Cooper’s 10 men were facing an uphill battle from the off and they did well to re-group and battle towards half-time with the score 0-0.
But two goals in the 67th and 69th minute from Parkin and Marrow respectively, killed off the game as Pools barely managed to muster an effort on goal.
New signing Marlon Harewood, 34, was thrown straight into the team but was forced to play as a lone striker for almost the entire game after his strike partner Luke James was sacrificed for veteran defender Sam Collins, following the red card.
The match left Cooper feeling angry and disappointed but he was full of praise for the efforts of his players.
“Having been so excited with how we had trained and how we had set-up and then having to change shape so early on, it is disappointing,” said the former Middlesbrough defender.
“Having to bring Luke James off the pitch hurt me a lot and Marlon having to play as the lone man on his debut was a hard one for him.
“All things considered, I am disappointed but not with everything, I thought the effort and work rate of the ten players left on the pitch was fantastic.
“We weren’t cut open; one goal came when the ball fell kindly for their striker and the other we thought Jack Baldwin had been fouled on the half-way line.
“Unfortunately apart from a few flickers in the second-half we have not really made their keeper make a save which is another disappointment.
“But it can’t always be helped when you have 10 men because you have to make sure you close the back door.
“Once they got that first goal though, it makes it very hard to get back into it.
“I am angry and disappointed because we came here with a plan and even in the early parts of the game I thought that it looked like it was going to fall into place.
“But then for 89 minutes, the plan has been chucked up in the air and we have had to come up with something else and it just come up short.
“It is disappointing because the work that the lads put in on the pitch deserved more.”
The result leaves the Clarence Road club in 16th spot in Sky Bet League Two, still five points above the relegation zone but now 11 points adrift of the play-off positions.